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Private Barbara Thornborrow
(1952 - living) Canada

Barbara Thornborrow

Member of the armed forces


Barbara came out in 1977, when she was threatened with dismissal from the Canadian Armed Forces, where she was a Private in the photographic department. Following a search of her barracks room, questioning of her roommate and confiscation of personal belongings, she was questioned by an SIU Sergeant and a policewoman.

She acknowledged her lesbianism, upon which she was offered a choice: either sign a document admitting that fact or agree to psychiatric counseling. She refused both options, asked for a lawyer, and found herself not only stating her case in the press, but sitting in on a House of Commons Committee on justice and legal affairs, where opposition MPs urged the government to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Her contention that her lesbianism had no effect on her ability to do her job was unprecedented, and she loudly disregarded the military stance that homosexuals were susceptible to blackmail, and thus a security risk.

Barbara was fired in June 1977 even though she was due to voluntary leave the forces in November 1977.


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